Yesterday, Amazon Web Services (AWS) went down. The three-hour outage caused a lot of problems for customers on the East Coast using AWS (only the East Coast branch was impacted). Some of those customers included Medium, Quora, Business Insider, and a slew of companies that use AWS regularly.
Additionally, the outage impacted connected home items that also run on AWS. For hours, companies and homeowners alike scrambled to make sense of why things weren’t running the way that they should. Amazon provided an answer this morning as to why the outage happened, but that doesn’t make the incident any easier to swallow.
Our Connected Lives
Connected home devices are interesting. They provide us with fast and efficient ways to do things like turn on the lights at home or open up a door when we are not there (or when we are). Everything from thermostats to garage doors can be powered ‘in the cloud,’ and that’s exactly where AWS is.
But when a company like Amazon is impacted by a major outage, people that use connected home devices and rely on AWS for client purposes are sidelined. Some people that use fitness apps run by AWS were impacted too. Imagine relying on a fitness app to count your heartbeats when you work out - or being in the middle of a workout - and all of a sudden not having that information at your fingertips.
I Have to Ask
Are we too connected? Are we too reliant on things like clouds to get us through a day? To open doors and windows and help us with fitness? Maybe. Because when those clouds go down, we panic. Not only is it hard to run a business when your clients rely on your using a cloud service like AWS, it’s hard to do anything when you are attached to such clouds.
Amazon hasn’t said exactly what the problem was that day. But it’s also interesting to note that while Amazon might be big enough to cause half of the East Coast to wonder if the Internet is collapsing when things go dark, it’s not such a big company in the grander scheme of the Internet.
It’s also worth noting that AWS has a pretty good ‘uptime’ record, which is why so many people do use this service. So even though AWS was down for a solid three hours this week, it’s not quite the end of the world that people believe it to be. If you use AWS and you faced an outage this week, you might wonder whether or not Amazon can still be counted on.
To you, or those people that are asking this question, I would tell you to look at the company’s track record and note that AWS is up and running 90% of the time. Outages like this one do happen, and Amazon has fixed the issue. To those people that rely on clouds to do things like open garage doors and secure alarm systems, I might tell you to consider a backup option.